HDL or Good Cholesterol Normal Range, Benefits, How to Improve

Updated on & Medically Reviewed by Dr Lalitha

HDL, also known as High Density Lipoprotein is often called the "Good Cholesterol” because it plays a role, in safeguarding your heart and blood vessels.

Lets take a look at what HDL does and the benefits it brings.

HDL Functioning:

  • HDL particles travel within your bloodstream collecting cholesterol from cells and tissues.
  • They then transport this cholesterol back to the liver, where it is broken down and eliminated from the body.
  • This process prevents the accumulation of cholesterol in artery walls, which can lead to plaque formation and ultimately result in heart disease.

HDL or Good Cholesterol Benefits

  • Higher levels of HDL are linked to a reduced risk of heart attack, stroke and peripheral artery disease.
  • HDL also possesses inflammatory and antioxidant properties that further shield blood vessels and promote overall cardiovascular health.

Healthy HDL Levels:

  • The optimum HDL levels are 60 mg/dL (milligrams per deciliter) or above for men while for women its 50 mg/dL or above.
  • Lower levels of HDL increase the risk of heart disease. Your doctor may provide suggestions, on how to raise them.

What are the Factors that can influence the HDL levels?

1. Family History:

A family history of HDL levels can have a significant impact, on an individuals own HDL levels.

2. Lifestyle Choices:

Adopting habits such as engaging in exercise consuming alcohol in moderation and following a balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains can help increase HDL levels.

3. Weight Management:

Losing weight for individuals who're overweight or obese can often lead to higher HDL levels.

4. Medications:

It is worth noting that some medications used to lower LDL (low density lipoprotein) cholesterol may inadvertently raise HDL levels as a side effect.

How to Improve HDL or Good Cholesterol?

If you're looking for ways to elevate your HDL or good cholesterol levels in your body and improve heart health while reducing the risk of disease, consider implementing the following strategies:

1. Regular Exercise:

Strive for 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity activities like brisk walking, swimming or cycling. Engaging in exercise not boosts the production of HDL but also enhances overall cardiovascular health.

2. Weight Management:

If you are currently overweight or obese even small reductions in weight can have an impact on increasing HDL levels. Focus on maintaining a balanced diet and incorporating physical activity into your routine, for sustainable weight management.

When it comes to maintaining a diet it's important to focus on consuming a variety of foods. Opt for an eating plan that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats, like olive oil and avocados. These types of foods not promote health but also help increase HDL (good cholesterol) levels.

3. Reduce Alcohol Consumption

In terms of alcohol consumption it's advisable to moderate your intake. For women this means limiting yourself to one drink per day while men can have up to two drinks. It's essential to consult with your doctor before making any changes in your alcohol consumption habits.

4. Quit Smoking

If you're a smoker quitting smoking is highly beneficial for your health and increasing HDL levels. Smoking damages blood vessels. Has an impact on HDL levels. By quitting smoking you'll be taking one of the steps towards improving your heart health.

5. Manage Stress

Managing stress is another factor in maintaining HDL levels. Chronic stress can lower HDL levels in the body. Try incorporating relaxation techniques into your routine such as meditation or seeking help if needed.

Now lets discuss Cholesterol in detail. Cholesterol isn't one type of substance; it actually exists in forms with distinct roles in our bodies. One important component involved in transporting cholesterol throughout the bloodstream is lipoproteins – protein particles that come in types.

One type of lipoprotein is known as Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) often referred to as "cholesterol". LDL carries cholesterol from the liver to cells, within our bodies.

Having levels of LDL cholesterol can result in the accumulation of fatty deposits, in the arteries, which in turn raises the risk of developing heart disease.

Different Types of Cholesterol

There are many types of cholesterol that play roles;

HDL (High Density Lipoprotein): Often referred to as "good cholesterol " HDL carries cholesterol away from cells and back to the liver for removal from the body. Higher levels of HDL are associated with a reduced risk of heart disease.

VLDL (Very Low Density Lipoprotein): Responsible for transporting triglycerides a type of fat. However high levels of VLDL can also contribute to the buildup of plaque in arteries.

IDL (Intermediate Density Lipoprotein): Formed when VLDL loses triglycerides. Elevated IDL levels can also increase the risk of heart disease.

Remnant Lipoproteins: These are remnants from VLDL metabolism that have a tendency to infiltrate artery walls and contribute to plaque formation.


  • Triglycerides are a type of fat stored in cells. Serve as an energy source, for the body.
  • They provide energy when needed.
  • High levels of triglycerides combined with LDL cholesterol can further raise the risk of heart disease by contributing to plaque formation and inflammation.

By making changes, to your lifestyle, such as managing your cholesterol levels and incorporating strategies like reducing sugar consumption and achieving a healthy weight you can effectively enhance your HDL levels and improve the overall health of your heart in the long run. It is important to adopt habits and seek guidance, from professionals when needed to ensure heart health. 


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Disclaimer: The information provided on this page is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any questions or concerns about your health, please talk to a healthcare professional.

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